Trump's Israel Pick David Friedman Is 'Wrong Man,' Former DNC Chairwoman Says

Adding David Friedman's extreme voice to Trump's team 'will only make lasting peace more elusive,' says Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

David Friedman, nominated to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Susan Walsh/AP

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, is the latest member of Congress to voice opposition U.S. President Donald Trump's choice to appoint David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel.

In a strongly worded statement issued on Wednesday, Wasserman Schultz said: “If the United States truly seeks a lasting peace in the Middle East, President Trump’s choice to be our next envoy to Israel is the wrong man. David Friedman will bring only a lengthy record of conflict and provocation to the job.”

Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign as head of the DNC in July after a trove of leaked emails showed senior party officials conspiring to undermine the campaign of Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries race. Wasserman Schultz, who represents Florida’s 23rd Congressional district, served as DNC chair for five years.

Wasserman Schultz joins a list of more than a dozen senators and members of Congress who have voiced opposition to Friedman’s appointment. Like her, quite a few are Jewish.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held its confirmation hearings on his appointment last Thursday. The committee is likely to vote on his nomination either next Tuesday or Wednesday. If approved, it will then move to the full Senate. For Friedman’s appointment to be blocked in the Senate, all the Democrats and three Republicans would have to vote against him. The leading Senate Democrat, Minority leader Chuck Schumer, has yet to make his position public on Friedman’s appointment.

In her statement, Wasserman Schultz noted that Friedman had likened liberal Jews to “kapos” – a reference to Jews who had collaborated with Nazis, had called former President Barack Obama an anti-Semite and had referred to Schumer as an appeaser.

“Though he apologized for his ‘hurtful’ remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week,” she said in the statement, “Friedman obviously lacks a deft diplomatic voice.”

But it is not only his offensive remarks, she noted, that disqualify him. “Friedman has recanted nearly every strongly held belief he’s had on major, sensitive Israel regional issues,” she said in the statement. “Though he’s strongly endorsed settlements, Friedman now says he agrees with Trump’s recent comment that they ‘may not be helpful.’ As for a two-state solution, which he also opposed previously, Friedman now says it may be the best hope for peace.”

Adding “the extreme and provocative voice of David Friedman” to Trump’s policy team, Wasserman Schultz warned, “will only make a lasting peace more elusive.”